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EGU 2016 – Deadline is approaching: submit your abstract for the Session EOS5 on GEOETHICS

In a few days and the deadline for submitting an abstract at EGU General Assembly 2016 will expire.

It’s time to contribute to the session EOS5 on GEOETHICS (no abstract fee charges!).

Information about this session:

EGU – General Assembly (Vienna 17-22 April 2016)
Session EOS5:
Geoethics: theoretical and practical aspects from research integrity to relationships between geosciences and society

Convener: Silvia Peppoloni
Co-conveners: Nic Bilham, Eduardo Marone, Marie Charriere, Tony Mayer

The conveners invite abstracts on both practical and theoretical aspects of geoethics, including case studies. The aim of the session is to develop ethical and social perspectives on the challenges arising from human interaction with natural systems, to complement technical approaches and solutions, and to help to define an ethical framework for geoscientists’ research and practice in addressing these challenges.

Full description of the session EOS5 at: http://www.geoethics.org/egu2016.html

The session is organized by the IAPG – International Association for Promoting Geoethics (http://www.geoethics.org) in collaboration with the Geological Society of London.

Abstract submission: http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2016/session/20171

Deadline: 13 January 2016

No Abstract Processing Charges!

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Call for Presentations: 35th International Geological Congress

35IGC3

The 35th International Geological Congress (IGC35) takes place August 27–September 4, 2016, in Cape Town, South Africa, and seeks submissions for poster sessions and presentations by geoscientists around the world.

Consider presenting on a technical topic in a geoscience speciality or on an aspect of professionalism in geoscience important to a practice area or to the work of your professional association as a self-regulatory body.The program for IGC Cape Town in 2016 covers 49 themes under three overarching topics, including Geology for Society, Geology for the Economy, and Fundamental Geoscience. The Geology for Society topic includes professionalism and Geo-ethics. Field trips, short courses and workshops on each of the topics are also planned.

Deadline for submissions of presentation abstracts is fast approaching – January 31, 2016.

The International Union of Geological Sciences holds IGCs every four years on behalf of its 121 national member countries.

International Professional Geology Conference merges with International Geological Congress.

The inclusion of geoscience professionalism and ethics is new at the IGC35. Since 1878, the congresses have served as geoscience’s foremost global scientific gatherings. Beginning in 2016, the International Professional Geology Conference (IPGC) merges with the International Geological Congress, bringing with it an additional focus on geoscience professionalism at the global or international scale.

Professionalism is becoming an increasingly important aspect of geoscience practice. By merging with the IGC, IPGC avoids running a niche global event only on professionalism, eliminates competition for members’ professional-development resources, and builds efficiencies in joining forces with a recurring event that also seeks to attract geoscientists from around the world and across every discipline. The International Union of Geological Sciences’ Task Group on Global Geoscience Professionalism at the 34th IGC in Brisbane, Australia, in 2012, provided further incentive for collaboration, as the task group’s participating organizations comprise the same organizations that previously championed and hosted stand-alone IPGC events.

Ransomware virus: Australians forced to pay as latest encryption virus is ‘unbreakable’, security expert says

Australia’s ABC News is reporting that Australians are paying thousands of dollars to overseas hackers to rid their computers of an unbreakable virus.

There has been a rise in the number of people falling victim to the latest version of an encryption virus which hijacks computer files and demands a ransom be paid to restore them.  Known as “ransomware” it infects computers through programs and credible-looking emails.  It takes computer files and photographs hostage.

More information available via the ABC News web site.

Members are urged to ensure that their computer systems and data are appropriately secured.

What sort of complaints does AIG deal with regarding members’ conduct?

The Ethics Column
What sort of complaints does AIG deal with regarding members’ conduct?

The types of complaints dealt with by AIG’s Complaints and Ethics and Standards Committees and the number of complaints dealt with are probably the two most frequent questions asked about the complaints and ethics and standards process.

It’s worth pointing out that all complaints received by AIG are dealt with in accordance with the Institute’s complaints process, the workflow for which is explained by the diagram below that is also published on the AIG web site.

AIG Complaint Process

Under this process, all complaints are investigated by the Complaints Committee determines whether there are grounds for referring the complaint to the Ethics and Standards Committee for a ruling on the issue.  The purpose of the two-committee process is to ensure procedural fairness for the subject of the complaint.  The Complaints and Ethics and Standards Committees have completely separate membership.  Members who do not agree with Ethics and Standards Committee findings have the option of appealing any decision to the Institute’s Council, where any Councillors previously involved in the matter during the Complaints and Ethics and Standards processes do not participate in reaching any appeal decision.

Both the Complaints and Ethics and Standards Committees attempt to deal with issues before them in a prompt manner, but the time required to complete processing of any complaint depends on the complexity and gravity of each case.

There are typically between one and three complaints under investigation by the Complaints Committee at any point in time.  Many members I’ve told this are surprised by the number of complaints received by the committee and express surprise that there is not broader knowledge of this amongst members.  This is actually a very positive sign that the committees are working effectively.  To be fair to both complainants and those members against whom a complaint has been made, the processes need to be conducted in confidence.  Where there is no case to answer, the subject of the complaint and the complainant are informed of the outcome.  Where there is an adverse finding, however, the outcomes of the investigation and rulings are published.  There hasn’t been an adverse finding warranting publication for some time, hence the low profile of the Complaints and Ethics and Standards Committees.

What sort of issues are the subjects of complaints?

Complaints cover any aspect of professional practice.  At their core, the subjects of complaints can be classified as:

  • Professional Misconduct;
  • Incompetence; and,
  • Negligence.

Professional misconduct is elegantly described by Andrews (2014) as “any conduct detrimental to the interests of the public”, that “harms or tends to harm the standing of the profession generally” or “would reasonably be considered disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional”.  AIG’s Code of Ethics provides more specific guidance that supports these very general principles.

In the past, AIG has dealt with complaints regarding alleged:

  • unethical treatment of a member by another, which covers a range of issues including plagiarism and engaging in conduct that unfairly tarnishes a member’s professional standing or reputation;
  • unethical treatment of a member by an employer (who may or may not be a member of AIG);
  • failure to comply with the JORC or VALMIN Codes (which is mandatory for all AIG members); and,
  • poor professional practice, such as failing to complete work that a member has been contracted to undertake, or failure to deliver work of a standard commensurate with the member’s experience or contract terms.

Complaints associated with JORC compliance probably account for between one half and two thirds of the Complaints Committee’s work and, in recent times, have been focussed on the ability of members to act as Competent Persons as defined by JORC; i.e. meeting the commodity experience requirements.  The remaining third of complaints cover a diverse range of issues in which the treatment of members by employers feature.  These are, possibly, the most complex issues dealt with by the Complaints and Ethics and Standards committees as there are frequently situations where laws and government regulations come into consideration.  Legal advice may be needed, and is sought where required, to help resolve issues of this nature.

Who Can Make a Complaint?

Any individual or corporation can make a complaint regarding the actions of an AIG member.  All written complaints, clearly outlining the basis for considering the conduct of a member to be unsatisfactory, initiate a complaints process.

Does AIG monitor the conduct of members?

AIG expects members to comply with the Institute’s Code of Ethics at all times.  The Institute is not, generally, in a position to monitor the conduct of members and expects members to honour their obligation, set out in the Code of Ethics, to make the Institute aware of instances where the conduct of others may be in breach of the Code.  The exception to this relates to JORC and VALMIN where there is a process of random review of announcements in which members are nominated as Competent Persons.  This process at times reveals a statement by a company that is considered not to comply with either code.  The Complaints Committee, in these instances, may itself initiate a complaint against a member, or make a complaint on behalf of the Institute to another body.  There have been several instances in the past year where AIG has referred the compliance of companies with the JORC Code to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) for investigation that have involved alleged inappropriate use of information provided by Competent Persons, or failure to nominate a Competent Person in releases providing exploration results, mineral resource and ore reserve information.

There have also been instances where AIG has referred an alleged issue with the conduct of a Competent Person to AusIMM, where the individual is not an AIG member but believes there are grounds for the conduct of the Competent Person to be investigated.  AIG investigates all issues involving AIG members.  There are situations, most frequently associated with JORC Code compliance, where AIG members who are also AusIMM members may be investigated independently by both Institutes (and vice-versa).

Members’ Obligations

Two obligations apply to all AIG members, irrespective of their grade of membership:

  1. Members have an obligation to report conduct by another member that they believe may not comply with the Institute’s Code of Ethics.
  2. Members are required to fully cooperate with any Complaints or Ethics and Standards investigation in which they may become involved.

Non-compliance with the Code of Ethics has potential to undermine the standing and perception of our profession and this is at the core of our profession’s ability to undertake meaningful self-regulation.

Need Advice?

Members are able to seek an opinion or advice on issues that they feel may represent non-compliance with AIG’s Code of Ethics from the Complaints Committee, which is provided in confidence.

Andrew Waltho
Chairman AIG Complaints Committee

References

Andrews G.C., 2014.  Canadian Professional Engineering and Geoscience Practice and Ethics (Fifth Edition).  Nelson Education Limited, Toronto (472 pp).

VALMIN Code Review

VALMIN

Comments on the exposure draft of the revised VALMIN Code close on Friday 17 July 2015. All interested individuals and companies are invited to make a submission.

The draft revised Code has been prepared in response to changes in market conditions and practices over the last decade since the publication of the VALMIN Code 2005. The look and feel of the VALMIN Code 2015 exposure draft is different to the VALMIN Code 2005, some of the terminology is different, while the methods and key principles are essentially the same.

To review the exposure draft, and for instructions on how to make a submission to the VALMIN Committee, click here.  Enquiries can be directed by email.

Compliance with the VALMIN Code compliance by AIG members is mandatory.  Interested members are urged to make a submission in order to help ensure that the code remains a practical and effective standard of best practice.